March 24 – 2015

During the week covered by this review, we received 10 articles on the following subjects:

  •     Christians in Israel
  •     Christian Zionism
  •     Tourism
  •     Christianity
  •     Book Reviews
  •     Miscellaneous
  •     Archaeology

Christians in Israel

Yediot Ahronot, March 16, 2015

This article reports on the verbal and physical violence suffered by many Christian soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) because of their military service: curses, threats, and sometimes even beatings and stone-throwing. The perpetrators of these incidents are generally the soldiers’ Muslim neighbors, who see the soldiers as traitors.

In some cases the IDF has permitted these soldiers to return home in civilian dress and without their rifles, but “this is not logical,” says Fadi, one of those interviewed. “There is no one in the village who doesn’t know I serve in the IDF, and coming home in jeans instead of a uniform doesn’t solve the problem.” He and some of his friends have decided to continue wearing uniforms publicly, since “if we’re soldiers, we’ll be soldiers all the way.” They remain extremely concerned for their families, however, since the threats often include them.

Others, such as George, another soldier interviewed, have decided to avail themselves of the permission to come home in civilian dress, so as to “avoid unnecessary provocation.” Others wonder if the trouble is worthwhile; one such soldier said, “If this goes on we will take off our uniforms, return our rifles, say thank you and go home.”

The IDF spokesman stated, “The IDF denounces any violence against its soldiers, whose nights are as days in the defense of Israel’s security.” However, other elements in the security system explained that the IDF’s ability to act in these cases is limited, as it has no civilian law enforcement authority, and “the police are the ones who are supposed to prevent these incidents, and the government decides on their priorities.”

Maariv-Globes, March 20, 2015

The various Christian churches and orders own some 100,000 dunams of land in Israel, reports this article in Maariv. Although this is a relatively small number, it is remarkable as most of the land in question is located in desirable areas in cities; in Jerusalem, for instance, some 10% of the developed land in the western part of the city is owned by churches.

Although churches have been built in Israel ever since the dawn of Christianity, the pace was quickened in the 19th century, when new Ottoman legislation permitted foreign ownership of land and churches began to accumulate it in order to accrue greater influence.

Various agreements were made with different churches during the British Mandate period, such as the agreement about the Rehavia neighborhood in Jerusalem which was leased from the Greek Orthodox Church for 99 years. The ending date for many of these agreements is not far off, and their future is unknown, since, among other things, it often depends on the policy of the incumbent head of the particular church. In other cases, however, the churches have allowed agreements or actual sales of property to outside elements, or have acted to develop their properties.

Christian Zionism

Hed HaKrayot, March 13; Kolbo, March 20, 2015

On March 5, a group of Israel-loving Christians headed by Jamie and Neil Lash of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, visited the maternity ward of the Bnei Zion Medical Center and gave gifts to the new mothers. The hospital CEO, Dr. Amnon Rofeh, the head of the maternity department, Dr. Shlomi Sagi, and the department staff thanked the Lashes for “their support and dedication to the hospital.” The “exciting ceremony” was led by Keren Kabiri, head of the hospital friends’ association.

This is the sixth consecutive year in which a group led by the Lashes visited the hospital.


Ha’Ir Kol Ha’Ir, March 13, 2015

This article includes a list of current exhibitions to be seen at various Israeli museums. Of particular interest is the “broad wall” in Jerusalem’s Old City, where one can see part of the city wall from Hezekiah’s time; the By the Rivers of Babylon exhibition at the Bible Lands Museum; the Wohl Museum of Archaeology, where one can see the oldest engraving of the temple menorah; the Yad VaShem Museum of the Holocaust; the Israel Museum, particularly the treasure of gold coins recently found at the base of the Temple Mount; the Rockefeller Museum; the exhibition on the Bible at the National Library (Hebrew University–Givat Ram); the Central Zionist Archives; and the Begin Heritage Center.


Chayim Acherim, March 12, 2015

Based mainly on the Protoevangelium of James, this article recounts the history of Mary, mother of Jesus, “the most famous mother in the universe,” accompanied by descriptions of the relevant churches.

The article begins with Mary’s birth to Joachim and Anna in Jerusalem, after many years of childlessness (commemorated by the Church of Saint Anne near the Lions Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City). In gratitude, the couple vowed to dedicate her to serve in the temple, which was then done when Mary was three years old; her service in the temple consisted of spinning and weaving the curtain dividing the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. At age twelve Mary completed her service, and having been betrothed to Joseph of Nazareth, left for Galilee (the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth). While pregnant, Mary journeyed to visit her cousin Elizabeth; their meeting is commemorated in Ein Kerem’s Church of the Visitation in Jerusalem. Mary’s sorrow at seeing Jesus led to the cross is commemorated in the Armenian church located at the fourth station on the Via Dolorosa. After the crucifixion, Mary became a key figure among the believers until, years later, she fell into an “eternal sleep” on Mount Zion, and three days later ascended to become Queen of Heaven (the German Church of the Dormition on Mount Zion).

The article ends by calling upon Jews to remember Mary as a good Jewish mother, “happy, excited, and sad, who will always stand by her son.”

Book Reviews

Haaretz, March 16, 2015

This article reviews Ithiel, the African of Venice, the first translation of William Shakespeare’s Othello into Hebrew, by Eduard Salkinson and published in Vienna in 1874. Salkinson, a converted Jew who became a Presbyterian pastor, was banned by the Jewish communities.

Salkinson’s Ithiel not only translates Shakespeare’s play, but exchanges its frame of reference for a Jewish one, and the characters are given Jewish names. However, “one can still read the play and understand the story very well,” says Eran Tzalgov, who edited the translation for its recent re-publication by Ra’av.

The play has been produced twice in Israel, once by the Hebrew Theater in Haifa in 1936.


Shvi’i, March 13, 2015

Last week the foundational conference of the Zionist Foundation for Israel took place at the Begin Center in Jerusalem. The conference also launched Caroline Glick’s newest book, titled The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.


Yediot HaEmek-Afula, March 13, 2015

The Afula municipality has recently decided to make a particular effort to preserve the archaeological remains located within the city. One site which will benefit from this is the medieval fortress on the city’s Barkan Street, which in fact shows evidence of human habitation as far back as the late Chalcolithic period (circa 3000 BCE). Today one can see remains of a medieval Crusader fortress, as well as stone sarcophagi.

The site was excavated by Elazar Lifa Sukenik between 1926 and 1937, and again in the 1950s. The plan is to develop the site for domestic tourism.

Yediot Yerushalayim, March 20, 2015

A recently completed joint excavation in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood has uncovered a Second Temple era Jewish village, complete with water cisterns, winepresses, storehouses and a mikveh [Jewish ritual bath].

The excavation was conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority, Gilo residents, and cadets from the Beit Yisrael pre-military academy.